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Brandon Paasch, age 19, rode his Pirelli-shod TSE Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 to a thrilling victory in the 79th Daytona 200 Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Sean Dylan Kelly, riding his Dunlop-equipped M4 Palm Beach Police & Fire Foundation 1-833-CJKNOWS Suzuki GSX-R600 built by Team Hammer, started from pole position and led the majority of the 57-lap race, including laps 40 through 56.
Paasch, however, made up a six-second deficit during the last stint of the race and used a perfectly executed slipstream pass on the final lap to beat 18-year-old Kelly to the finish line by 0.03 second.
For his efforts, Paasch won a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona wristwatch and $25,000 cash, but before the race, Paasch pledged half of his winnings would go to the family of Lloyd Bayley. Bayley was a popular fellow racer who mentored Paasch early in his career but sadly died in a crash while racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway in December 2020.
Chronic Motorsports, a sponsor that Paasch and Bayley shared, pledged to match Paasch’s donation.
Floyd’s of Leadville CBD Racing Kawasaki’s Tyler O’Hara used a similar drafting move on Squid Hunter Racing Yamaha’s Michael Barnes to capture third place on the last lap.
The race was stopped on lap 19 when defending Daytona 200 Champion Kyle Wyman crashed after making contact with a slower rider in Turn Two of the infield. Wyman was slow to get up after the crash, bringing out the red flag so he could receive medical attention. Wyman eventually got to his feet and was able to continue in the race, after his team made repairs to his N2 Track Days/BobbleHeadMoto/KWR Yamaha. Wyman finished 25th, five laps down.
Note: Use the scroll and zoom tools in the bottom left corner of the PDF viewer to see all of the results.
More, from a press release issued by Daytona International Speedway:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 13, 2021) – Brandon Paasch, at only 19 years old, used an old, veteran move common to Daytona International Speedway winners to capture Saturday’s 79th DAYTONA 200 in breathtaking fashion.
After running second for most of the last portion of the race, Paasch, utilizing the draft, reeled in leader Sean Dylan Kelly and calculated a perfect slingshot move at the entrance of the tri-oval as the duo came to the checkered flag, winning by just .031 of a second. Paasch took home the traditional Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watch and the title at America’s most historic motorcycle road race during the 80th Annual Bike Week.
“I have been dreaming about that pass since 2019,” said Paasch, who finished fifth that year in the DAYTONA 200. “For me to see it coming to fruition, it is kinda crazy. Somehow we pulled it off. I just kept digging and my hope was to run him down. It was kinda surreal for me at the end to cross the line first. It just doesn’t feel real right now. I am at a loss for words.”
Battling an ankle injury and off his bike for at least two weeks, Paasch (R6 600 Yamaha) edged Kelly (GSX-R600 Suzuki) and Tyler O’Hara (ZX-6R 636 Kawasaki) in the 54-rider field that put on a show with plenty of side-by-side racing and at times riders running three- and four-wide. Paasch posted the best lap (1:49.752) and best speed (115.132).
Paasch was riding with a purpose this weekend. He pledged half of his winnings to rider Lloyd Bayley’s Family. Bayley, from DeLand, Fla., died tragically during an ASRA sanctioned motorcycle race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in late 2020. Bayley was known as “Ironman” in ASRA and served as a mentor to Paasch early in his racing career.
Kelly, who finished runner-up in the last DAYTONA 200 held in 2019, was dominant, leading the most laps but came up just feet short at the finish.
“The 200 is never easy and this one definitely hurt the most,” said Kelly, who was just .213 seconds short in ’19 to winner Kyle Wyman. “Getting passed today right at the finish line after 200 miles is something tough. It’s hard for it to sink in, but at the end of the day we did our best, we did everything we could. We led a lot of laps today. Hopefully I will get another opportunity to run the 200 and we’re going to fight for that Rolex.”
Sanctioned by the American SportBike Racing Association (ASRA), the DAYTONA 200 showcased 600cc sportbikes on the Speedway’s 3.51-mile DAYTONA Road Course in a 57-lap, 200-mile endurance race. Its roots go back to the sands of Daytona Beach where they began racing on a 4.2-mile shoreline course in 1937 before moving the event to Daytona International Speedway and incorporating the high banks of the World Center of Racing in 1961.
Wyman’s quest for consecutive wins ended early while he was running in the top three but lost control on lap 18. His front wheel touched the rear wheel of the lap rider between turns two and three.
Fourth went to Michael Barnes while four-time champion Danny Eslick finished fifth as he attempted to become the third five-time champion of the DAYTONA 200.
The DAYTONA 200 was the final major race of the 80th Annual Bike Week At DAYTONA. On Sunday, ASRA and Championship Cup Series races will be held rounding out the final competition at the speedway.
Daytona International Speedway’s next scheduled major motorsports weekend is a NASCAR doubleheader Aug. 27-28, featuring the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola. The Coke Zero Sugar 400, Aug. 28, returns as the Regular Season Finale for the NASCAR Cup Series, and will be held under the lights on the famed high banks. With only 16 Playoff spots up for grabs, anything could happen as the stage is set for NASCAR to crown a Champion.
Tickets for the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and other speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway and see the latest speedway news on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
About Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway is a state-of-the-art motorsports facility and was awarded the SportsBusiness Journal’s prestigious Sports Business Award for Sports Facility of the Year in 2016. Daytona International Speedway is the home of The Great American Race – the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series event garners most of the attention – as well as the largest audience in motorsports – the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex, also known as the World Center of Racing, boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe. In addition to at least nine major event weekends, the Speedway grounds are also used extensively for events that include concerts, civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training.
More, from a press release issued by Team Hammer:
SEAN DYLAN KELLY SECOND IN 79TH DAYTONA 200 FOR TEAM HAMMER
Sean Dylan Kelly backed up his perfect run of two Daytona 200 poles in two attempts by doing the same for his podium record in Saturday’s 79th running of the historic race at Daytona International Speedway, finishing a close second.
Kelly pushed the pace throughout the legendary 200-miler, controlling the contest from the front for the vast majority of a race that tests the upper limits of endurance, courage, speed, reliability, and focus.
Following a picture-perfect pitstop, “SDK” made a late break, opening up substantial lead aboard his M4 Palm Beach Police & Fire Foundation 1-833-CJKNOWS Suzuki GSX-R600 built by Team Hammer.
However, he was reeled back into reach by a rival in the waning laps. And as it so often does, it all came down to one final showdown on the high banks.
Kelly was draft-passed in the decisive sprint to the checkered flag and immediately made an under-and-over move to try to power back by at the stripe. His audacious bid for victory came up a scant 0.031-second short, and the Floridian was forced to accept another close second place in the Daytona 200, in as many starts.
“It’s tough,” Kelly said. “Honestly, it hurts to get passed right at the line, but that’s what this race is. The Team Hammer crew gave me a really good bike, we did a great pitstop, and I think we did an overall amazing job. We tried our best and did what we could.
“I thought I could lead the last few laps, but it just wasn’t enough — that draft pass was just perfectly calculated. Huge thank you to the entire team and everyone out here supporting us. I hope everyone enjoyed that race.”
About Team Hammer
The 2021 season marks Team Hammer’s 41st consecutive year of operating as a professional road racing team. Racebikes built and fielded by Team Hammer have won 108 AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National races, have finished on AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National podiums 291 times and have won nine AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National Championships, as well as two FIM South American Championships (in Superbike and Supersport). The team has also won 137 endurance races overall (including seven 24-hour races) and 13 Overall WERA National Endurance Championships with Suzuki motorcycles, and holds the U.S. record for mileage covered in a 24-hour race. The team also competed in the televised 1990s Formula USA National Championship, famously running “Methanol Monster” GSX-R1100 Superbikes fueled by methanol, and won four F-USA Championships.